What Is Companion Planting?

by on February 13, 2012

UrbanFig: Companion Planting

By planting complementary vegetables, herbs and flowers together, you get added beauty, pest control and mutual benefit for everyone.

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about companion planting in the garden but you might not know exactly what it means and what it can do for you.

Companion planting is, as its name would suggest, the pairing of plants that work and grow together in a symbiotic way.

“Effective companion planning is like building a successful small village,” says Proven Winners Garden Guru Laura Matthews of Punk Rock Gardens. “Bring in diversity, serve the needs of all the members in a small space, and encourage village dwellers to protect each other while working and playing well together.”

Let’s take a quick look at several reasons for companion planting and why each works:


Companion Planting For Beauty

While the big push lately is on growing food, there’s nothing wrong with planting flowers and beautiful plants just because you enjoy looking at them. In fact, there are edible flowers that not only beautify your garden space but add color and life to salads and other dishes. Among the most common companion planted flowers are marigolds and nasturtium, but they aren’t just for looks.


Companion Planting For Pest Control

Who would have thought that you could plant certain things together and repel pests? It’s true, but first you have to understand that not all insects are bad. In fact, less than 1% of all insects are garden pests and many of them are beneficial both because they are predatory and because they pollinate your garden.

If you are looking to repel insects, consider basil, chives, garlic, mint and onions as companions. In addition, marigolds are said to repel tomato hornworms, squash bugs and whiteflies.

Companion Planting For Mutual Benefit & Soil Improvement

Companion planting has been used for centuries. In fact, the Native Americans developed a complementary planting that is still effective and in use today.

The Three Sisters as it is called, is a combination of beans, corn and squash planted together in a mound. While it was created to provide the necessary foods they needed in a single place, these three plants work together and they do it well. Corn provides a climbing support for beans which provide added nitrogen to the soil. Together, the beans and corn provide shade to the squash plants that in turn act as a living mulch that keeps the ground cool, moist and weed-free.

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